Sorry, Hillary Clinton. VA Corruption Widespread

Hillary Rodham Clinton says the furor over sick vets waiting for health-care is overblown and “not as widespread as it has been made out to be.” Last Friday, Clinton accused Republicans of concocting complaints against the Veterans Affairs Department as part of an ideological war against big government.

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Sorry, Clinton. That’s wrong. 138 nonpartisan investigations prepared for Congress — count them, 138 — have shown corruption and dysfunction throughout the VA system. And our ailing vets bear the brunt.

The latest report — a whopping 4,000 page, $68 million review by RAND Corp. and others — looked at 87 VA facilities and found, once again, a culture of distrust and retaliation. “This culture permeates across all levels — from the front lines to Medical Center leaders to people at the VHA Central Office.”

The deaths at the Phoenix VA facility, which made headlines last year, are the tip of the iceberg.

Amid shortages of doctors and nurses, VA headquarters staff soared a shocking 160 percent over the last five years. More highly paid bureaucrats pushing scandals under the rug.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald — installed 14 months ago to turn around the agency — pushed back on this latest report and insists he’s getting the job done. Truth is, he’s become a defender of the status quo, defying congressional oversight and lying about how long sick vets currently are waiting for care. Nothing will improve until he gets the boot.

The arrogance is breathtaking. Last week, five VA executives stonewalled the House Veterans Affairs Committee, refusing to testify about how they manipulated job assignments and expense claims to enrich themselves by hundreds of thousands of dollars — at taxpayers’ expense, of course.

An inspector general who uncovered this has referred the culprits to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. Here’s the shocker: McDonald hasn’t fired them (though last year’s reform law supposedly makes it easier). In fact, he’s encouraging them to duck congressional questioning, like a mafia boss protecting his underlings with a code of silence.

This isn’t about politics. The nonpartisan American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett deplored the fact that these five administrators took “the evasive route” rather than explaining their actions. But Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., isn’t rolling over. He’s taking the unprecedented step of subpoenaing the five VA employees — forcing them to answer to Congress.

“We cannot sit still and wait while VA hopes this blows over,” Miller insisted. Top VA executives also are continuing to cover up the truth about patients’ wait times and falsely boasting that they’re making improvements. Internal documents uncovered by CNN show “wait times are increasing significantly.” The VA brass always has an excuse at the ready. This time they’re claiming that they’ve changed how wait times are calculated, no longer measuring the time from the request date and instead measuring the time from the date the vet said he’d like to be seen. They must think the public is stupid.

Obviously that’s what Clinton thinks. But more and more evidence shows the VA dysfunction is widespread, and McDonald’s team isn’t turning it around. Last Thursday, the Government Accountability Office told Congress that six out of the seven medical centers it investigated had no clue how many doctors were needed there or how many patients were being seen. If this were the private sector, heads would be rolling.

But not at Veterans Affairs: that’s the problem that Clinton’s possible presidential rival, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wants to fix. Last Tuesday he tried to bring a bill to the Senate floor that would make it easier to fire VA employees for poor performance or misconduct. “If you’re not doing your job, you should be fired,” he said.

But Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., blocked Rubio’s bill. He and fellow Democrats claimed it would violate federal workers’ rights and “scare away top talent.”

Maybe they mean a talent for deception and fraud. That’s what vets are up against, even as they wait in wheelchairs for medical care.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution.”

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